Leavitt Area High School’s MacKenzie Heathco, left, and Edward Little’s Liz Bellman chase the ball during their game in Turner on Saturday.
TURNER — Hailey DeMascio was nervous, but the good kind.
As a field hockey keeper, that’s nothing new, particularly when a horde of players — some friend, some foe — create a scene resembling an unchoreagraphed do-si-do in a cloud of dust in front of you while you search for a small, pink ball.
“I try to stay low and watch every movement,” DeMascio said.
She had to Saturday. After having a relatively easy first half-to-three-quarters of a game against Class A opponent Edward Little, DeMascio faced a quick flurry of action — four penalty corner tries in a row.
“We’re notorious for, when we allow one corner, we let a few happen,” DeMascio admitted. “It’s hard.”
DeMascio tracked the ball well, helped turn back a furious Edward Little comeback attempt and allowed goals by Kayla Leclerc and Jaelyn Nadeau to stand as the Hornets held off the Red Eddies 2-1.
“It was nerve-wracking, they were very intense and we just wanted to maintain our lead and hopefully score a third goal so we could get our lead back and have a safety net,” DeMascio said. “But, it was definitely nerve-wracking.”
Leavitt began the game in full control. The Hornets pressured EL, which had a hard time connecting on any passes through the midfield.
“We were not passing well in the first half, at the beginning,” Edward Little coach Greg Perkins said. “And then, I thought in the second part of the first half, we started to pass the ball a bit better.”
Perhaps, but it was Leavitt who rode the positive momentum into the break after Leclerc finished a flurry in front of freshman EL keeper Elise Syphers to put the host Hornets in front 1-0.
“I’m not really sure how that happened,” Leclerc said. “It was just sitting there and I popped it in.”
The second half began much like the first, and Nadeau padded Leavitt’s lead on a goal with 16:32 to play in regulation. The ball came to Nadeau at the left post and she redirected it over the line. An EL defender attempted to save the ball with her hand as it crossed the line, to no avail.
Perkins had seen enough.
“In the second half, it started the same,” Perkins said, “so I called a timeout and I told them, ‘Look, you have a choice here: You can get organized, make good passes and play as a team, or not.’ And they did. They crashed the net, got a goal, and then that fired them up, and they almost cashed in for a tying goal at the end again.”
The Eddies got their goal on the second of four consecutive penalty corner tries when Liz Bellman rattled home a shot on a rebound off DeMascio’s pads. Grace McBride had the original shot after the insertion on the corner.
“It went right back to where no one was watching post, and it went right in,” DeMascio said.
That EL goal also magnified the importance of Nadeau’s strike for Leavitt just six minutes earlier.
“Getting that second goal gives you a little bit of breathing room, in case, things happened like it happened today,” Leavitt coach Wanda Ward-McLean said. “You go up 2-0, they pop one in, it makes it scary again.”
EL continued to pressure into the game’s final minutes, but DeMascio and the Hornets’ defense held strong.
“I think we got tired,” Ward-McLean said. “We’ve been injured, we’re just getting everybody back now, but not everybody’s game speed yet. We’ve been switching people around a bit.”
The road doesn’t get much easier for either team going forward, either. Leavitt will see perennial contenders MCI and unbeaten Belfast among its stretch run, while EL still faces top Class A teams Messalonskee and Mt. Blue on its push for a playoff position.
“We’ve had to play some really, really good teams this year, and that’s been their resolve all season,” Perkins said. “They’ve been battling to the end all season. When you’re down by four or five goals, that can be hard, but they’ve done it.”
Leavitt Area High School’s Tamra benson, front, tips the ball into the air in front of Edward Little’s Kiara Fournier during their game in Turner on Saturday.Leavitt Area High School’s Tamra Benson, left, knocks down a high ball in front of Edward Little’s Grace McBride during their game in Turner on Saturday.Edward Little High School’s Sierra Green, left, controls the ball in front of Leavitt Area High School’s MacKenzie Treadwell during their game in Turner on Saturday.Edward Little High School’s Sierra Green, right, sprints past Leavitt Area High School’s Sydney Olberding during their game in Turner on Saturday.Leavitt Area High School’s Kaitlyn Leclerc, left, tries to get the ball past Edward Little High School’s Emma Allen during their game in Turner on Saturday.Leavitt Area High School’s Madeline Hanscom, left, tries to get past Edward Little’s Grace McBride during their game in Turner on Saturday.
Leavitt Area High School’s Samantha Martineau, right, fires the ball away from Edward Little’s Jordan Cummings during their game in Turner on Saturday.